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What is the speed advantage of a modern steel bike?

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What is the speed advantage of a modern steel bike?

Old 08-08-19, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by ksryder View Post
I mean I know plenty of people who ride thousands of miles a year who are slow. Literally every training program I've ever seen is basically variations on high intensity intervals. I didn't start getting faster until I did some targeted training.

Riding with other fast people also helps.
+1. That you (the OP) are working hard to keep up means you're with the right people. If you were the fastest guy in the bunch already, your fitness would stagnate.
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Old 08-08-19, 10:08 AM
  #52  
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Originally Posted by Bandera View Post
Isn't that Fred Mertz, Ethyl's husband?
Sorry, I misspelled Merckx.
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Old 08-08-19, 10:13 AM
  #53  
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Originally Posted by ironwood View Post
Sorry, I misspelled Merckx.
You also misspelled Eddy...
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Old 08-08-19, 10:27 AM
  #54  
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Originally Posted by ironwood View Post
Unfortunately, one of the best modern steel tubing, True Temper XO Platinum, is no longer available. Some of the Japanese makers have moved production to Taiwan. Maybe someone on the Framebuilding forum would know what is the best modern steel. A lot of them miss XO Platinum.
While XO Platinum was very nice, there are gobs of available tubes from other brands that are just as 'nice' and build just as 'well'. XO Platinum came in varying tube profiles too, so a lot of other tubes can match XO's butting profiles as well as tensile strength.
Columbus, Reynolds, Variwall(basically who picked up True Temper's line domestically), Dedacciai, and Kaisei all offer really great tubes that can be as nice as or 'nicer' than XO Platinum.

Domestic MTB builders certainly seemed to like XO Platinum, and a lot was due to consistent inventory from what Ive seen.
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Old 08-08-19, 10:32 AM
  #55  
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Originally Posted by dugla View Post
Ok,

Thanks for the tons of useful input. Very cool.

If I try and distill responses down I think I have a punch list.

First, more context:
- My Fuso is at130mm and this was key to some of the changes I made. I had the local shop build me a wheel. Hub: Shimano 105 5800 36 hole 11-Speed rear hub. Cassette: Shimano 7-Speed 11/28. Rim: Mavic Open Sport 700c. So out with the old freewheel in with the cassette/freehub basically.

My todo list:
- upgrade to the latest Shimano 105 11-speed groupset
- (maybe) replace my front wheel with some Mavic coolness
- more hills

My goals are rather modest: ride comfortably at 17-18mph in the local group ride which is 36 miles-ish. A key aspect of this is "solving" riding on the rolling hills here in Mass. (Lexington/Concord/etc.). This is where the 11-speeds should pay dividends. I think I will get there. My weekday hill loops - 3 1-hour sessions per week - are getting faster and longer. Around 1400 ft of elevation in an hour, typically. I don't really have the time to do 40/50/60 mile rides.


I think you're going to get there with or without the upgrades because the practice thing is the most important and you're committed to it, you just might have more fun with more gears, so what the hell, why not.

I live in Nashua, but I ride from home through the area you're talking about a lot. Those hills are great, just the right size to be fun up and down, and the roads while far from perfect, are pretty decent. I may have waved back at your group a few times.
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Old 08-08-19, 10:34 AM
  #56  
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Originally Posted by dugla View Post
Ok,

Thanks for the tons of useful input. Very cool.

If I try and distill responses down I think I have a punch list.

First, more context:
- My Fuso is at130mm and this was key to some of the changes I made. I had the local shop build me a wheel. Hub: Shimano 105 5800 36 hole 11-Speed rear hub. Cassette: Shimano 7-Speed 11/28. Rim: Mavic Open Sport 700c. So out with the old freewheel in with the cassette/freehub basically.

My todo list:
- upgrade to the latest Shimano 105 11-speed groupset
- (maybe) replace my front wheel with some Mavic coolness
- more hills

My goals are rather modest: ride comfortably at 17-18mph in the local group ride which is 36 miles-ish. A key aspect of this is "solving" riding on the rolling hills here in Mass. (Lexington/Concord/etc.). This is where the 11-speeds should pay dividends. I think I will get there. My weekday hill loops - 3 1-hour sessions per week - are getting faster and longer. Around 1400 ft of elevation in an hour, typically. I don't really have the time to do 40/50/60 mile rides.
1- If you have a 5800 hub right now, then you are running a cassette. You arent using a freewheel. Just want to make sure you are aware there is an inherent and significant difference between the two.
2- If your new 11sp cassette has the same range as your current 7sp cassette, then you wont really go faster at the top or bottom ends of the speed spectrum. I guess you might find more suitable middle gears with an 11sp cassette which could them allow you to spin at an ideal rpm(whatever that may be for you) instead of being in between gears on the 7sp cassette and constantly either spinning too fast to keep speed or slogging slowly on the crankset because the gearing is too tough. The thing about hills though is they are rarely linear. Gearing that works for the start may not be what you need for the middle or the end. So if you are between gears on a 7sp, it wont be for long.
I guess I dont know why an 11sp drivetrain would pay dividends on the rolling hills, unless you change the gear range and that helps you now that you have a 32t cog or something like that.
3- 1400' of elevation in an hour is very good. Thats about 100-120' per mile, which is nothing to dismiss. The only way to climb faster with that much increase per mile is get stronger or get lighter...or both.
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Old 08-08-19, 10:51 AM
  #57  
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Originally Posted by dugla View Post
Hi,

I am trying to get a definitive, fact based answer to the question: what makes a modern steel frame road bike faster than my vintage - 20 years old - custom steel frame?

Some context. I ride a lovely custom frame built by Dave Moulton called a Fuso. Fits me like a glove. It’s old. How old? 7-speeds old. A few years ago a buddy of mine upgraded my shifters to entry-level Shimano brake/shifters. I recently had a new rear wheel built with a Shimano 105 hub, Mavic rim, and 11-28 cassette. I have Shimano Claris compact cranks: 50/34.

I am fit and - due to limited time - ride hills for about an hour every other day during the week. On weekends I do a longer (32mi.) ride. I occasionally try riding with a local group ride but I am routinely dropped early in the ride. Average pace is about 17mph. It drives me nuts! The other riders are not exactly studs and do not look super fit. What I do notice is everyone is on a modern bike. Carbon mostly. Some titanium. Some steel.

Is it time for me to join the modern world? I love steel. I love custom. Should I just bite to bullet and get a modern custom steel frame (Independent Fabrication looks cool)? What is the true speed advantage of these modern bikes?

Thanks,
Doug
I too have a Fuso made in '85. The first time I rode it I was surprised to see how well it rode and handled. You'd be hard pressed to find a better steel frame as Dave was a master builder and at 83 years old still rides. As someone else pointed out, your bike isn't the problem_ you just don't ride enough miles at this point. I did build mine with modern Athena 11 speed (with downtube shifters though) since I bought the bare frame and I like smaller jumps between gears.
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Old 08-08-19, 10:56 AM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
I will guarantee you that my mid-80's MAZA (Not MASI) Prestige TSX frame was heavier than my current Guru Sidero. That counts for something when climbing. Whether it's significant enough to cause a recreational rider to spent a bunch of money is up to you.
Ok, well this is comparing an apple to a pineapple. They share a name to an extent, and yet they are totally different product so comparing them is absurd.

Your TSX frame was very nice for the late 80s and that tubing is still quite good. But it's butting profile is different than the Guru's Spirit tubing.
1st- the Guru has a carbon fork vs a (presumably) quality steel fork for the TSX bike. That alone is about 500g in difference(350 vs 850). Then you have what is pretty much the lightest steel tubing(save stainles) in the Guru compared to quality but not elite TSX tubing. Even then, the butting profiles are basically .1mm different on most tubes. Some are .2 different. That comes out to what- 250g over a frame? So the Guru with a carbon fork is probably 1.6# lighter before components.

So sure, if you compare the Fuso(butting will most likely match/be close to TSX) to an elite level modern steel tube road bike(Spirit or S3 for example), then a pound and a half will be saved versus just slapping on the new components on the old bike. But if even quality tubing like Clumbus Zona or some versions of Reynolds 853 is used on the modern build, you will end up saving ounces. A few hundred grams. That is just so insignificant that for all intents and purposes its correct to say a rider wont be faster.
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Old 08-08-19, 11:32 AM
  #59  
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Originally Posted by kansukee View Post
I too have a Fuso made in '85. The first time I rode it I was surprised to see how well it rode and handled. You'd be hard pressed to find a better steel frame as Dave was a master builder and at 83 years old still rides. As someone else pointed out, your bike isn't the problem_ you just don't ride enough miles at this point. I did build mine with modern Athena 11 speed (with downtube shifters though) since I bought the bare frame and I like smaller jumps between gears.
Dude, I had NO idea how good this bike was at the time I bought it. I just wanted a custom frame. Man, I sure lucked out.
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Old 08-08-19, 12:03 PM
  #60  
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One thing you could do is to find someone in your group ,about your size who has a modern steel bike that also fits you reasonably well, and switch bikes; then switch again. If you are consistently faster on the new bike,and the other rider is slower on yours, then it does have something to d.o with the bike. If one rider is faster on either bike, then it might be the the rider, not the bike.
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Old 08-08-19, 12:05 PM
  #61  
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
You also misspelled Eddy...
Maybe he misspelled Eddie.
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Old 08-08-19, 01:30 PM
  #62  
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Originally Posted by ironwood View Post
Maybe he misspelled Eddie.
Not really. He misapplied "Eddie", or he misspelled "Eddy".
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Old 08-08-19, 01:39 PM
  #63  
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My '85 Fuso is set up with a very modern 11speed ultegra groupset. It is a joy to ride. It's a few pounds heavier then my fancy carbon fiber bike set up with dura ace, and so it takes just a little bit more effort on a steep hill climb. But it's got a soul and history that no modern bike can provide. Any peloton would cut you some slack just for the privilege of having a Fuso it the group. If you want to ride with a fast group then learn to draft well and concentrate on improving your climbing ability so you don't get dropped on the hills.
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Old 08-09-19, 07:33 AM
  #64  
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Oh yah. That's pretty much what I'm aiming for. I'm not too concerned about hanging with the group on the flats. I'm 6'3"/175lb and like a diesel. I can cruise on the flats at 17-18mph no prob. It's those damn rollers that slowly grind me down. An 11-speed cassette to smooth is THE answer for rollers. At least for me. Very cool.
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Old 08-09-19, 04:58 PM
  #65  
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Vintage steel still works for me. Very nice ride on these early 70's boom bikes. Long wheelbase and extremely comfortable leather saddle. No problems keeping up with group rides, till they crank it up to 25+. But thats my lack of fitness, not the bike.
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Old 08-10-19, 08:17 PM
  #66  
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Originally Posted by big chainring View Post
Vintage steel still works for me. Very nice ride on these early 70's boom bikes. Long wheelbase and extremely comfortable leather saddle. No problems keeping up with group rides, till they crank it up to 25+. But thats my lack of fitness, not the bike.
I can still ride my 30-pound (as ridden with tool kit, rear rack, water bottle) mid-'70s Fuji at an average speed of over 17mph on my 12.5mi (each way) commute including the time waiting for traffic lights, etc. My riding speed is generally just shy of 20mph. AND I do it with a 13-21 six-speed ultra-spaced freewheel and 120mm rear spacing. I am usually in a 80-inch gear +/- 7gi. I have no need (or the legs/lungs at my age/conditioning ) to run in the 90-100gi range.

Similarly, I ride my lighter (23-pounds) '86 Miyata 710 in the similar gear range. It is just a tad quicker, but I attribute that to the lighter and more supple 150tpi tires that it wears... Oh, and the Miyata wears its stock 13-26 six-speed freewheel although I have yet to use the two larger rear cogs since the biggest hills on my commute are highway overpasses.... I suppose I really should put one of my 'spare' 13-21 six speed freewheels on it - and probably will come it's next refurbishment - which should give me more gearing choices in my preferred range.
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Old 08-12-19, 11:36 AM
  #67  
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
The short answer is, nothing. The single most important aspect of a bike is "does it fit?" And clearly, yours does. The only reason to buy a new bike is because you want one. A new one won't make you any faster, but it might make you happy.

For reference: my grandfather had a custom steel frame made for him in Chicago by Oscar Wastyn in the late 1930s (Wastyn would later go on to design the Schwinn Paramount.) My grandfather rode that bike until his death, almost 60 years later.
This is interesting about your grandfather's enjoyment of the same bike for so many years. I was going to suggest that a custom bike with 7 speed components must be at least 20 years old and I'd guess that many riders, including me, would need to change their position/fit after that many years. Maybe a 40 year old would still fit the bike they had built when they were 20 but my position when I was 50 is painful for me at 76.
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Old 08-12-19, 11:44 AM
  #68  
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I've got a 20-year old custom steel racing bike. It's a beaut, but there's no denying that there's been a lot of innovation in cycling in the meantime.

I also just got a year-old NOS bike to use as my commuter. It's got all the modern bells and whistles. I was interested in seeing how it rode on a 20-mile route I ride a lot, and took it out this weekend. Result: 41 seconds ahead of my average, but at an average speed 0.8 mph slower than my fastest on that route. So, you know, nice, but hardly world-changing. If I were worried about getting dropped on a group ride…I'd still get dropped.

The new bike is nice in ways that don't really make you go faster. The hydraulic discs are great. The fatter tires smooth out the ride (my old racer has brutally short chainstays and probably couldn't accommodate 25-mm tires). I haven't made full use of the 2x11 drivetrain because with the wider cassette, I haven't had to put it on the little ring. The bike is startlingly light. I've been impressed at the advanced specs that are available in a nice but not elite bike.

Putting more gear on your old bike might benefit you in some ways, but they won't make you faster apart from some edge cases. Most of the additional gears you get with an 11-speed drivetrain are at the low end.
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Old 08-12-19, 11:45 AM
  #69  
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
No offense, but I doubt the bike you ride is the reason you are getting dropped. You said that you "occasionally" ride with a local training group. In my experience, you need to do these rides regularly to get in shape to hang in with a fast group.

If you want a lighter bike, carbon is the way to go.

Alternatively you may want to cold set your frame to 130 and run a "modern" group. There is a lot to be said for more in between gears when going on a fast ride. You've been riding that bike a long time and you like the way it rides. Personally I'd just run a modern group and keep riding it.
I ride an Eddy Merckx, MXLeader, that I purchased about 20 years ago. I love the way it feels, but I was riding DuraAce 9 speed and DuraAce wheels with many miles on them. 20 years doesn't constitute old steal, but it's certainly not sub 20 lbs. So this past season I upgraded components and wheels (Campy Chorus and Fast Forward Wheels). The fit of the frame still feels great, but the new components and wheels make it feel like a new bike. I plan on making my steel last for another 20 years...that puts me at 70 years old. :-) Go for the upgrades! Or someone once said, "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades!" :-) Stick with what you've got! LOL
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Old 08-12-19, 12:37 PM
  #70  
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
Just grunt a bit when spreading the dropouts to insert a 130 mm rear wheel.
Homebrew,
You shouldn't be doing that, the dropout spread is not correct. By 'forcing' a wider hub onto your frame, the dropouts will be at an angle to the hub flange. A good frame person will not only permanently widen the space between the dropouts, but also change the angle at this new spread so they remain parallel to the hub flange. This is especially needed for older dropouts that you move the wheel forward to remove, so the wheel is held in tightly and doesn't creep forward when mashing on the pedals in a low gear.

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Old 08-12-19, 12:59 PM
  #71  
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I have an independt fabrication bike. I REALLY like it...if I'd have it since 2007 and ridden many thousands of miles on it.
Prior to that I had a heavier Lemonde (a low end)...didn't have as good as parts...
And the difference in speed, for me, is: marginal....it is better, but just barely...it's more comfortable a lot...
What would make ME faster would be to lose 25 pounds.
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Old 08-12-19, 01:14 PM
  #72  
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Originally Posted by dugla View Post
Oh yah. That's pretty much what I'm aiming for. I'm not too concerned about hanging with the group on the flats. I'm 6'3"/175lb and like a diesel. I can cruise on the flats at 17-18mph no prob. It's those damn rollers that slowly grind me down. An 11-speed cassette to smooth is THE answer for rollers. At least for me. Very cool.
I recently upgraded my old steel bike to a modern gear set; The only thing I had to do was to take change the chain and cassette – going from 8 speed to 11 speed. (actually, I just pulled the 11spd wheel off another bike). Since internal width of a chain is basically the same the derailleur and chain-rings were fine. Friction shifters made it seamless. Not that the bike is any faster, but it does have more gears…

I will say, that upgrading the wheels and tires (GP5000) on my steel roadie made a significant difference.


Unlike others, I’ve had a significant improvement upgrading my steel frames to something modern. One was a track bike (used on the track) the other a road bike. More modern bikes are stiffer, and have much better acceleration and power transfer. It means nothing on an randonee but is everything when sprinting, jumping, closing the gap. With the older steel, I would be so spent jumping on someone’s wheel, that I couldn’t stay there. With a responsive frame I can jump on to a fast moving wheel and stay there.

My old school steel frames are just noodley. Not a problem for a long ride at 150-200 watts. It is a problem for a hard training ride with sprints.
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Old 08-12-19, 01:27 PM
  #73  
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I have an '87 or '88 LeMond, bought soon after they were first available (while he was recuperating after he was shot) from a small shop in Reno, its suppose to have Columus SLX tubing, though a local frame builder who straighten out the fork after a crash says no. I am more of a fast recreational rider, did some racing in the late 80's early 90's, but this bike just felt light and responsive compared to the other racing geometry bikes I've owned. I never really liked the group it came with (it was a 7 sp, but the front derailer never down shifted well), so in 2012 I upgraded components to Campy Chorus 11 sp, and a Campy Eurus wheel set (I went tubeless). What a difference! The bike still feels light, better fit, more responsive, and faster compared to the the Ti bike I bought in '16. Long live these older steel frames!


A couple of people have mentioned its the engine/motor, but its probably better and cheeper to take weight off the body frame than the bike frame for climbing hills better.

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Old 08-12-19, 01:52 PM
  #74  
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Since we're showing off our neo-retros, here's my 86 Gazelle Champion Mondial with a 10-speed Campy group. I've taken it on the A ride many times and even raced it when my race bike was knocked out of commission. It's a bit heavier and not as stiff as my Tarmac, but it's not holding me back. It lives for crosswinds and bad pavement.

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Old 08-12-19, 03:40 PM
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DrIsotope
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Originally Posted by KDR View Post
This is interesting about your grandfather's enjoyment of the same bike for so many years. I was going to suggest that a custom bike with 7 speed components must be at least 20 years old and I'd guess that many riders, including me, would need to change their position/fit after that many years. Maybe a 40 year old would still fit the bike they had built when they were 20 but my position when I was 50 is painful for me at 76.
The first pic is from sometime in the late 30s-- my grandfather on the right, Oscar Wastyn on the left. My gramps would have been maybe 22 or 23 here.

The second pic is the bike in pretty much it's "final form," I want to say 1988 or 1989-- he would have been 73 or 74.
Still running no FD (it didn't get a freewheel until the 1960s) and still running a saddle-to-bar drop that makes my back hurt just to look at it.
I mean, there's barely daylight between the drops and the top of the front tire. Five speed Campy freewheel. One DT shifter.



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